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LTC Bullet: Attorneys Promote Medicaid as Alternative to LTC Insurance

Friday October 23, 1998


Elder law attorneys who specialize in Medicaid planning (i.e., transferring or sheltering assets in order to qualify clients for Medicaid's long-term care benefits) routinely defend their practice by arguing that LTC insurance is not an alternative for their clients. They publicly claim to be helping only those who cannot afford or otherwise qualify for insurance.

But what are they telling each other? In the Fall, 1998 issue of the NAELA Quarterly (the journal of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys), Baird Brown, a fellow and member of NAELA, clearly portrays Medicaid as the preferred alternative to LTC insurance.

In his article "The Art of Gifting," Brown writes: "The cornerstone of...long-term care planning is remove 'countable' assets from [individuals'] names to plan for long-term care eligibility under the Medicaid program. The primary motive for to maximize the amount of assets that are available to pass on to the transferor's heirs. [footnote 3]

[fn. 3] "Of course, individuals don't have to incorporate gifting into [a]...long-term care plan....[I]ndividuals can choose to private pay or purchase long-term care insurance to cover the cost of care."

Attorney Brown makes clear to his fellow practitioners that Medicaid planning with gifting is absolutely an alternative to those (suckers?) who would choose instead to purchase LTC insurance.

While LTC insurance is not appropriate for everyone, attorneys who promote Medicaid to people who can otherwise afford and qualify for insurance are committing a disservice to their clients. Medicaid suffers from a notorious reputation for problems with access, quality, discrimination,
reimbursement and institutional bias. LTC insurance guarantees red-carpet access to top-quality care across the spectrum of care settings.

Which would you choose? The point is that many people do have a choice that trusted attorneys fail to explore in favor of selling Medicaid planning services.

Source: Baird Brown, "The Art of Gifting," NAELA Quarterly, Vol. 11, No. 3, Fall 1998, p. 21. (footnotes omitted)